Is Fox Promoting Bullying by Omission?
Fox News barely mentioned it.
That’s the finding of a media study by Equality Matters. In the two weeks following Rodemeyer’s death, Fox mentioned the story once, while discussing proposed new anti-bullying legislation in New York.
Instead Fox devotes its airtime to running segments criticizing efforts to reduce anti-LGBT bullying. They’ve run numerous segments attacking New Jersey’s new anti-bullying law and California’s FAIR Education Act, which requires public schools to include representations of LGBT people in history lessons.
Equality Matters notes that Fox bias is shown in what it doesn’t cover and what LGBT-related issues it instead chooses to promote.
Neither the passage of same-sex marriage in New York nor the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” were reported for the news events they were. Nor was the news of former RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman — who had orchestrated President Bush’s gay-bashing 2004 re-election campaign — coming out as gay. When it was discovered that Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) husband was involved with so-called“ex-gay” therapy, the news was everywhere else in the reporting of the Republican Presidential campaign, but Fox said nothing.
October was National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month and during the same period, CNN and MSNBC ran several segments covering both Rodemeyer’s death and anti-LGBT bullying in America. Fox took a different approach to bullying.
Instead it promotes the idea of those opposing efforts to stop the bullying and victimization of gay teens as being the victims.
In September and October, Fox has run at least nine segments lamenting Vanderbilt University’s non-discrimination policy, which prohibits religious groups from excluding LGBT students from leadership positions. The network has promoted Rosie Marie Belforti, a town clerk in New York state who refuses to sign same-sex marriage licenses, and the Texas student, Dakota Ary, who was temporarily suspended after voicing his opposition to homosexuality in class. That student’s story was followed up in local media and found to be exaggerated. The ongoing bullying of the gay teen involved was also reported locally, but not by Fox.
Says Equality Matters:
There’s a legitimate debate to be had about the risks of over-sensationalizing stories about bullying-related suicide in the media. Nevertheless, it’s clear that Fox’s approach – ignoring real bullying stories while attacking anti-bullying efforts – is aimed at making the problem of anti-LGBT bullying seem exaggerated and trivial.
This kind of one-sided reporting plays directly into the hands of anti-gay groups, which work tirelessly to stand in the way of creating safe environments for LGBT students. As a report from People for the American Way recently noted:
“Ignoring the clear signs of bullying directed towards gay and gay-perceived students does more than perpetuate the problem and lend undeserved credibility to Religious Right attacks on LGBT people and their allies. It undermines the creation of safe and welcoming schools, and puts the well-being and the very lives of American students at risk. [emphasis added]“
Once again, Fox has demonstrated its willingness to abandon its “fair and balanced” slogan in order to toe the far-right line. This time, it’s some of the most vulnerable people who will likely suffer as a result.
Photo source: Jamey Rodemeyer YouTube screenshot